Rove, Libby Prepare for Possible Indictments

By Jim VandeHei and Carol D. Leonnig
Washington Post Staff Writers
Friday, October 28, 2005

The White House, District Court officials and two potential targets of the CIA leak investigation were making preparations yesterday for the possible announcement of indictments by Special Counsel Patrick J. Fitzgerald today, according to several sources familiar with the investigation.

Two sources said I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Vice President Cheney's chief of staff, was shopping for a white-collar criminal lawyer amid expectations of those close to the case that he might be indicted for providing false statements or other charges.

At the same time, White House Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove began assembling a public relations team in the event that he is indicted. The New York Times reported last night that Rove would not be charged today but would remain under investigation.

At the White House, aides scrambled to put the finishing touches on a political strategy to respond to the fallout from any criminal charges, including the likelihood of staff changes. A Republican consultant with close White House ties said Chief of Staff Andrew H. Card Jr. had canceled at least two trips in the past week and had met with Bush over the weekend to focus on how to react to the grand jury's decisions.

"These will be very, very dark days for the White House," the consultant quoted Card as saying.

At the U.S. courthouse here, where Fitzgerald will meet with the grand jury for what is expected to be the final time, there was a rush of activity. Court staff made preparations to quickly produce scores of copies of documents for waiting reporters.

Still, the penultimate day of the 22-month probe ended with the same mystery that has kept much of Washington, including some of the possible targets and lawyers in the case, on edge about Fitzgerald's plans.

The special counsel set out in late 2003 to investigate whether anyone in the Bush administration illegally disclosed the identity of CIA operative Valerie Plame as part of an effort to discredit her husband, outspoken Iraq war critic and former ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV.

But officials close to Rove and Libby said the two high-level aides seem more concerned about being charged with making false statements to the grand jury, an area in which Fitzgerald has shown great interest as the case comes to a close. People close to Rove said the senior Bush strategist and his legal team have worked assiduously in the past week to convince Fitzgerald that Rove did not mislead the grand jury.

Fitzgerald has a number of legal options. They range from concluding that no one broke the law, to charging a number of government officials with a conspiracy to unmask Plame or obstruct justice during the investigation. But it was hard to find anyone involved in the case yesterday who believed Fitzgerald will not indict someone today.

It was unclear yesterday whether Fitzgerald had issued formal letters notifying anyone that he or she was a target of the investigation. However, that step might not be necessary for Libby or Rove, who previously have been warned verbally that they face possible legal jeopardy.

Though there was speculation among lawyers for witnesses in the case that Fitzgerald could choose to empanel a new grand jury and extend his investigation, two legal sources said he is eager to not take that route and would prefer to wrap up the case today.

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